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February 27, 2010

Photo by Clark Little

While Pacific Quest’s students were nestled in the hills high in Kau and well out of any tsunami danger zones (roughly 1500 feet in elevation), coastal regions in Hawaii today were on high alert.  As many followed the news on their computers and televisions many Hawaii residents were forced to evacuate their homes and head for higher ground, relying on radio broadcasts.  Luckily the event was not much more than a scare (the above photo is just a cool Hawaii wave).  It turned out to be an incredible community building event that actually brought people closer together.

I was awoken to a phone call at 3:15 am this morning from a frantic friend suggesting that I evacuate my house.  I live very close to the beach in Hilo, an area particularly prone to tsunami damage.  Having visited the Pacific Tsunami Museum on the bay front in Hilo in the past, I new the potential power of the natural phenomenon.  Hilo has been struck by tsunamis in 1940’s and 60’s leaving buildings and home completely destroyed.  With my adrenaline pumping I threw my valuable belongings in my truck and drove mauka (toward the volcano).

I found a nice view of the bay and backed my truck in next to others who were already parked.  We watched the sunrise and talked story as others continued to gather.  As the tsunami hour approached more and more people kept coming.  The crowd resembled that which one might see at a parade.  People were coming down from the volcano to get a better look at the approaching wave.  While the wave never really formed, the group enjoyed laughs and stories and it turned out to be a rather nice way to spend a Saturday morning.

For more information on tsunamis visit NOAA Pacific Tsunami warning center.  I want to reiterate that the PQ program is well out of harms way of tsunami danger and the students utilized this opportunity to learn more about earth science.